HILLIARD, OH . . . Team Rahal and Honda Performance Development, Inc. today announced a partnership that will see Team Rahal enter a full-season entry in the Indy Racing League in 2003. The single-car entry is sponsored by Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. and long-time Team Rahal partner Miller Brewing Company, and will be driven by 1998 IRL champion and 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner, Kenny Brack.
Pioneer, recognized as a leader in technology advancements in the consumer electronics industry, joins the Miller Brewing Company, which first joined Team Rahal as a sponsor in 1992, on the full-season IRL program. Last season, Miller Lite and Team Rahal initiated an Indy 500 program after having partnered for ten seasons on the team's Champ Car program.
This program marks the renewal of the Team Rahal and Honda, an alliance that began in 1993 when the auto manufacturer entered Indy Car racing. After a year of testing, Team Rahal entered two Honda-powered Lola cars in 1994 in the championship with Bobby Rahal recording a season-best second at Toronto. Rahal finished in the top- ten in the final season points.
This will be Brack's second tenure with Team Rahal. The 36-year-old native of Sweden drove a Team Rahal entry in CART for two seasons (2000 and 2001) finishing fourth and second in the championship respectively. Brack collected four wins, 11 podiums and 24 top-ten results in his two seasons with Team Rahal.
The announcement of the Pioneer/Miller Lite IRL program marks a milestone for Team Rahal as for the first time the team will race in three open-wheel series in the same season. Team Rahal announced its CART program with Gigante and Michel Jourdain Jr. in mid-November and the team's Toyota Atlantic program with Danica Patrick will be detailed in a Friday announcement in New York.
"Today we start a new chapter in Team Rahal's history with this announcement," said Team Rahal co-owner and 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal. "The opportunity to again work with Kenny Brack, a championship driver whom I hold in high regard, and to team with Honda, Ilmor, Pioneer and our longtime partners at Miller Brewing on this program made this an ideal opportunity. For me personally, it means a great deal for Team Rahal to once again be involved with Honda. Given our history together, and how closely we worked together to bring Honda into open- wheel racing, to be asked by Honda to be part of this project is a great honor."
"We're excited to have the opportunity to reunite with Team Rahal and team owner Bobby Rahal, who played such an important role in our entry into Indy Car racing in 1994," said Robert Clarke, general manager of Honda Performance Development. "We look forward to establishing a relationship with former Indy 500 and IRL Champion Kenny Brack. Kenny has proven to be a race and championship winner in the past and he and Team Rahal will fill an important position within the Honda-powered lineup next season."
"We're proud to have this incredibly talented group of racing professionals sporting the Pioneer red logo on their vehicles and racing suits this year," said Ed Sachs, executive vice president of Mobile Entertainment for Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. "As the leading provider of in-car audio and video technology, our motorsports sponsorships expose the Pioneer brand to millions of consumers through television and on-site activities. It also gives us a great opportunity to establish retail promotions for world-renowned events like the Indy 500."
"We're excited to continue our long-standing partnership with Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and everyone at Team Rahal," said Steve Lauletta, director of Event and Sports Marketing at Miller Brewing Company. "Miller Brewing has been a sponsor of Bobby and his race team since 1992, and we have enjoyed many successes during our time together. Bobby has also been a great ambassador for Miller Lite, as both a driver and team owner. Having Kenny Brack as part of the program is a bonus. We have worked with Kenny before and he does a great job both on and off the track. With his being a former Indianapolis 500 champion, we are really looking forward to making it 'Miller Time' in May at the Speedway, as well as the rest of the season."
"Rejoining Bobby and the rest of Team Rahal and having the chance to work with Honda and two world-class sponsors in Pioneer and Miller Lite made this a great situation," said Brack. "We had a lot of success in my two years at Team Rahal and I am looking forward to continuing that success. A lot has changed in the IRL since my last season in 1999, but I am confident that between Honda and Team Rahal, I will have everything I need to be successful."
The combination of Brack and Team Rahal was a prolific combination on the oval tracks in CART. Brack collected four wins, two seconds and seven podium finishes, for a total of ten top-five results in the 17 oval races he ran with Team Rahal in 2000 and 2001.
The Pioneer/Miller Lite entry for Team Rahal will utilize a Honda-powered/Dallara featuring Firestone Firehawk tires for the 16-race IRL schedule. The team will announce the formal make-up of its IRL team including team manager, engineers and support staff in the near future.
The team expects delivery of its first Dallara in mid-December and plans are already underway to begin testing in early January at Homestead/Miami Speedway, the site of the first race of the 2003 IRL season on March 2, 2003.
Team Rahal is now in its second decade as one of the leading open-wheel racing teams in North America. Based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time CART Champion Bobby Rahal and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, the team currently fields a single-car effort in Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) for Michel Jourdain Jr. as well as an entry for 1999 Indy 500 winner and 1998 Indy Racing League champion Kenny Brack in the IRL. The team recently signed rising open-wheel star Danica Patrick to a multi-year driving contract and she will make her debut in the Toyota Atlantic Series in 2003. The 60-member team enjoys primary sponsorship from the Gigante Group in CART and Pioneer and the Miller Brewing Company for the Indy Racing League.